"It's not a shock to say that we have to make some changes for the future for me to remain here."
- Marvin Lewis with Thomas George of NFL.com
It's an interesting thing to say, no doubt. No one in their right mind would refute Lewis further, knowing that this team's front office structure is awful, with players that are above the team. For six seasons, Lewis has worked hard at changing the losing culture with this team by reiterating a team-first blue-collar attitude. It's a work in progress that's stalling within the first stage. "We've got some guys who have a 30-second mindset," Lewis said. "They get it. For 30 seconds. Then it's on to something else. We have had too many guys pick and choose when they are going to work on a play. Some actually think they are smart enough to pick and choose. It's an attitude adjustment. We need a difference."
Some would argue that it's Lewis' leadership that would make the difference, provide the attitude adjustment. Then we're reminded about monsters like Chad Johnson that were enabled, allowed to grow beyond the parameters of control.
I also believe that the quote isn't an ultimatum, as others are suggesting. He's not threatening to leave, simply stating the obvious that the players he has, the front office support (meaning the lack of football-minded executives), will accumulate to his eventual Cincinnati demise. Lewis was asked about it after the game and clarified his point. "We need to change how were getting things done. Playing, I'm not talking about anything other than that. I don't think when I spoke with Thomas, I didn't mean anything other than that context. We need to make sure that we continue to develop our guys and do a good job of coaching and playing. He was talking about overall. Just the future."
The original quote was so vague that conclusions could be based on several avenues. The front office needs to change things; actually selling the team, getting the family out, is the ONLY acceptable change. The roster needs change, though we remember Lewis saying at the end of last season that the roster needs to blow up. Change wasn't on the team's off-season itinerary, based on the fact that we muffed an opportunity to acquire high-round draft picks with a declined trade offer from the Washington Redskins.
Late last month, I was interviewed on Fan House and I made a point that I believe details the demise of the Mike Brown Bengals clearly. I wrote:
The most noticeable aspect with Mike Brown isn't his business sense – though one could argue that in order to have a successful business the key isn't cost cutting, rather a quality product. However, for a time Mike Brown was an apprentice, under his father Paul Brown, designing the business aspects of the newest team in the AFL. Fundamentally responsible for how the game is played today, Paul Brown's brilliance came with building championship football teams through the draft; while his son Mike, took to the business side of things.
Remaining steadfast without the background of scouting talent like his father, or the modesty of incorporating personnel that specialize in talent evaluations, Mike failed to fill the void left after his father's death; believing he could judge talent equal to his father. I believe that Mike Brown is truly over his head, without the experience his father had judging talent and building championship-caliber football teams.
The team kept its business sense, with a sound-minded financial owner that failed to replace the brilliance, judgment and mind of his own father. In terms of making money, he's doing the proper job as any business owner. However, his profits aren't likely to rise, and his revenue during our falling economy will be reduced. In the end, it's the same argument. A man in the front office given the power to direct and distribute responsibilities for finding talent and developing a philosophy to develop around. Based on egoism, ignorance and selfishness, I don't expect that to change.